Synod 2018: Catholic Church Abandoning Faith

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I don't know about you, but I have been following goings on at the Synod on Youth with growing sense of dismay.

It seems extraordinary that, following the Synod on the Family, which the Vatican used to talk about Gay Families, we now need a Synod on the Youth where the main talking point appears to be Gay Youth. I'm starting to feel like we could have a Synod on Basket Weaving, and the Vatican would be talking about Gay Basket Weavers!

The stage was set at the last Synod when Fr. Thomas Rosica, papal spokesman and head of Canada's Salt + Light TV was shown to be given a very skewed view of what was being discussed by the Synod Fathers: Church Militant covered the strange events at the time and it seemed directly at odds with the stated purpose and agenda of the Synod, however, in the light of more recent goings on, it makes a lot more sense!

Of course, the main talking point of that Synod, driven by Pope Francis himself, was Holy Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics (i.e. those in a state of mortal sin) a proposal never made explicitly by the Holy Father, but consistently referred to implicitly, and especially through his affirmation of others acceptance of the practice (e.g. Argentina and Malta especially).

A cynical person could easily see this as a direct attack on Sacramental Marriage and the family and see how such an attack could pave the way for a re-examination of Humanae Vitae which contradicts the magisterial teaching on the dual ends of the procreative act: the unitive & the procreative, to assert a greater emphasis on the unitive end.

As has already been pointed out by some who are eminently more theologically qualified to do so than I, there are marked similarities in this debate with the Lambeth Conference of 1930, when Anglican bishops passed Resolution 15 to allow contraceptive use only on clear “moral” grounds but not for “motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.” Soon after the Lambeth resolution, the floodgates were opened to widespread contraceptive use, separating the unitive and dimensions of marital love and precipitating today’s hyper-sexualized culture characterized by high abortion rates and same-sex “marriage.”

The Anglican communion, torn apart by issues of sexuality in recent years, has never recovered but instead has been racked by widening divisions ever since, most notably over homosexuality.

Is it all starting to come together for you? A cynical person could see a carefully worked out agenda to validate homosexuality in some spurious way through this synodal process.

Despite Rosica's manipulation of the last Synod, and some really embarrassing stuff in the meantime, he is again in a position of prominence for this Synod. And again, despite the proposed subject matter, there seems to be a clear push for one topic to dominate:

A couple of points here. The involvement of Rosica replicates a symptom I have seen in the Church in England and Wales and in my own Diocese. The Church does not choose the best person for a job, it chooses someone who fits an agenda. usually an ideologically driven agenda. The Church does not like to preach the Gospel too loudly in case anyone hears. This has always filled me with a deep, deep sadness. The Church does not know how to deal with Catholics who actually believe what it teaches anymore. Can this extraordinary statement be true?

Fr Ed Tomlinson posts today:
Are we living at a time of crisis within the church because too many of her leaders are living with spiritual cognitive dissonance? That is to say; have lost personal belief in the supernatural reality of the church but nevertheless continue as clergy because the institutional life of the church feeds their material need. Such clerics would be deeply conflicted souls and likely to exhibit unhealthy behaviour. To use the analogy of Christ they would be like whitewashed sepulchres. Externally appearing as Christian men of virtue but inside dead and given over to ways of thinking at odds with the Gospel of Christ.
I would argue that evidence for this theory is compelling- indeed it makes sense of what we witness today. It explains why certain clerics seem desperate to water down traditional faith in a quest to embrace the secular consensus. It explains why certain clerics seem more passionate about left wing politics or homosexual activism or ‘what yoof want’ than in living and preaching a life of authentic holiness.It explains why bishops seem silent when faith is attacked yet vocal on issues like the environment.
It also helps us understand the shameful double lives, the abuse and corruption that seem so widespread. Because the person who preaches a faith they no longer believe in is living a manifest lie. And, thus conflicted, will inevitably look outside of faith for something to fill that void of emptiness. To compound problems many will not even admit the lie, will not admit the loss of faith they experience. Such people will grow to be troubled and confused. And this might explain why they become so very hostile to those who still possess the thing they lost. We begin to understand the labelling of people who retain supernatural faith as nasty or rigid, etc..
Might modernism itself even be a manifestation of wholesale cognitive dissonance? After all modernist worship is centred on downplaying supernatural aspects of faith for that which is entertaining and populist. The mystical realm denied- consider the bizarre hatred of the extraordinary form though it fed the saints throughout the ages. Consider the love of all things trendy – from the rave in the nave to those dire schmaltzy choruses. Consider the ripping out of altar rails and high altars- that encouraged us to kneel before God. Consider the erection of carpeted stage areas on which the community can gather in celebration of self.
Fr. Ed is exactly right. Philosophy professor Thomas Pink explains further in this interview. The diagnosis is spot on:
Rarely do these prelates defend the unborn from the pulpit, condemn the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception, or speak out against same-sex “marriage” — topics guaranteed to bring them into conflict with the modern world.
This can be seen at the current Youth Synod in Rome where the Church’s moral teaching was hardly mentioned, except in the sense of avoiding moralism.

Instead, attention is generally drawn to safe moral social justice issues such as combating poverty, migration, climate change, and promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr. Pink starts by affirming a supernatural reality which seems completely absent from the Synod deliberations, i.e. that we are in a spiritual conflict with the fallen side of human nature, in our own selves as well as other people. Behind that, of course, is an absolutely uncompromising spiritual conflict with the Devil. He says that the idea forwarded by some theologians at Vatican II was that the Church can somehow live at peace with an unconverted world. Jacques Maritain was a very influential philosopher and theologian who helped inspire Dignitatis Humanae, and he applied this vision to the political. The Church, he thought, can live at peace and harmony with a state that is religiously neutral and so unconverted.

Dr. Pink is clear that this is false and he says that the 19th century popes were also very clear on this. They say the state must be Christian, and indeed Catholic. The state must unite with the Church in a single Christian community, enjoying the life of grace at the political level, and not just the level of the private life of citizens — otherwise Church and state will be in deep conflict.

Think about this in the context of Pope Francis' many nods to conciliation with the modern world, from his attitude to divorce, homosexuality, climate change and environmental issues, and his applauding of abortion advocates, even while he publicly condemns abortion.

Dr. Pink continues:
The official theology thinks that harmony between Church and world is available without the world’s conversion. That, as I say, was deeply part of [Jacques] Maritain’s political theology. But as the case of the state shows, it’s clearly not true because, as we’ve seen, as soon as you have political secularization, you immediately get Church-state conflict involving the state abandoning important elements of the natural law. It’s happening continuously, so you get a conflict on laws concerning abortion, marriage, euthanasia, a whole range of issues on an ever-widening front, and there seems no stop to it.

If Maritain had been right, this wouldn’t have happened. Political secularization would have allowed for continued harmony between Church and an unconverted, religiously neutral state within a shared framework of allegiance to natural law. But there has been no such harmony, and natural law has been a point of division not unity. The 19th century popes were entirely accurate in what they predicted. Pius IX says in Quanta Cura that where the authority of Jesus Christ is removed from the political community, then natural justice and right will be lost.
Of course, there are, and always have been a good number (perhaps even a majority?) of Catholics who, informed by secular principles and with little or no foundation in Catholic principles, consider that the Church does need to "move with the times" or find some point of conciliation with the modern secular culture, and these are the people who are providing the support for Pope Francis and the hierarchy's present direction of travel.

I have absolutely no doubt that, should this direction prevail, it will be catastrophic for the Church, because those of us who have genuine faith and have lived and studied to better understand their faith and to deepen our relationship with Christ, can no more abandon that truth than to say our children are not our children or that water is not wet. Meanwhile, the other side of the debate have little invested in it and it would make little difference if the Church as a reality ceased to exist -- they could quite happily assimilate into the secular culture they so applaud in any case.

To me this feels like an abandonment by the institutional or human (horizontal) dimension of the Church. But not by Christ (interestingly). In fact, quite the opposite, because it is within such persecution that a sense of the beauty of truth is more resplendent and becomes more important; more highly prized.



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